Saturday, 5 November 2016

Remember Remember the 5th November


The men are out on the green outside my new house building a bonfire.They are hefting logs around, dragging bags of leaves across the grass and the air rings with the sound of hammer and nail as they erect a structure fit for the king of all the guys. I walk past and wave, picture for a moment, you amongst the group, hoisting old kitchen cabinets on your shoulder, hammering with mock vigour, laughing in camaraderie with the other men. How you would have loved to be there, I know. I kick a pile of leaves, talk to you in the clouds again, and walk on with the dog. I phone your mum, call to see your friends. As usual none of them can fill the gap.

I remember last year. I was sad that the children were with their dad on this, my favourite day of the year. I shed a few tears on your shoulder while we tried to decide whether to go out to a bonfire anyway but, in the end, we just lay in bed in my attic room, watching fireworks explode over the city from my window in each other's arms. I remember us listening to Jamie Lawson's song, 'I wasn't expecting that.' It wasn't our kind of music but those words resonated for us both. We hadn't expected to find ourselves so deeply in love, not at our age, not with each other. We weren't expecting the ending of the song when it came either, it was so abrupt, the way she dies and the song stops. We weren't expecting it to happen to us.

I didn't go to the bonfire with your friends the night after, though the kids and I were invited. I was too scared to introduce them to you. I knew they would love you, like they loved the last one who left. I didn't trust you yet to stay. But I remember that you sent me photos of the bonfire and a video of your friend juggling fire and that you learned to Facetime. I can still picture your face looming into view, your laughter over the crackle of the fire, the wonder of you, marvelling at the wonder of it all.

Afterwards I said, come round, the children are in bed. And we sat on my sofa and you smelled of wood smoke and sparks and all was warmth. How lovely it was to see each other unexpectedly, we said, on a Sunday night.

Tonight I will watch the bonfire go up in flames and watch the guy collapse and I will remember, not the man who wanted to blow up parliament but the man who lit up my life with a spark that burned so brightly, then fizzled and died, leaving just a trail of love like smoke in the air. I will imagine the feel of your arms around me in the darkness and write your name across the night sky.

Tomorrow, I will go to the bonfire with your friends and, this time, I can take the kids. Together we will remember you, the blacksmith, builder of bonfires, a man of fire. On this day, and every day, I remember you. On this night, and every night, I miss you.